Get These Motherfucking Ants Off My Motherfucking Cross (Part 3)

The Censorship of David Wojnarowicz’s “A Fire In My Belly” from “Hide/Seek” at the Smithsonian Institute’s National Portrait Gallery
Part 3 of 3

Chicago artist and writer, Jeriah Hildwine concludes his series on censorship, the Culture Wars, and David Wojnarowicz and the Smithsonian. Here, the author points out that without the sensation caused by the censorship, the recent widespread screening of “A Fire In My Belly” would never have happened. Though censored works and artists usually gain notoriety and incredible exposure, Hildwine explains that the criticism aimed at institutions could negatively affect future programming.

For an individual artist, however, to be censored can ultimately have a positive effect on one’s career and legacy. Mapplethorpe, Serrano, Ofili, and now Wojnarowicz have become household names in ways they never would have if not for their being targeted for censorship by the conservative forces in the culture wars. Mapplethorpe and Wojnarowicz experienced this boost posthumously, both having died of AIDS before they could feel the positive backlash from the efforts at censoring their work. Ofili and Serrano have both seen their careers expand in the years since their respective scandals, although they were pretty well established even beforehand. What benefits an artist in a museum show may not do so much for a student whose work is removed from a college’s student work gallery.

Read the article in its entirely on Art Talk Chicago.